Posted in Personal life, Writing

Queen, Cousin, Bishop – My Topical Take on Rock, Paper, Scissors

October cover of Tetbury Advertiser
The esteemed editor draws attention to my column on this month’s cover with a patriotic shout-out for HRH

In my October column for the Tetbury Advertiser, I invented a topical equivalent to the traditional playground game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors”

Was I the only person holding their breath last month till the moment the Queen officially became our country’s longest serving monarch? Knowing my Scottish husband’s Republican tendencies, I kept to myself my anxiety that the Queen would fall at the last fence (a metaphor of which she would surely approve), until my daughter (12) piped up out of the blue “So exactly what time did the old King die? I don’t want to celebrate too soon.”

No matter what your political beliefs, you’d have to be hardhearted not to feel pleased on Her Majesty’s behalf. I always love feeling that I’m living through a historical landmark moment that will be chronicled by historians and taught in the classroom to future generations of schoolchildren. No monarch is an island, and her achievement surely touches us all, in the same way that we can’t help but feel a little fillip of excitement (no, not that sort of Philip) and ownership when our country wins a major sporting award, even if we take usually take no interest in the game.

Cousin Trumps Queen

Nina and Laura together
My grandma’s cousin Nina, now 99, with my daughter Laura, sharing the family smile and pose

But the Queen’s longevity was dwarfed a few days later by our visit to my late grandmother’s cousin Nina (99). On our journey to her elegant seaside apartment (I think HRH would feel right at home there), it occurred to me that at the time of the Queen’s coronation, Nina would already have considered herself middle-aged, having been born during the First World War. Greeting Nina feels like hugging history. (Thank goodness that modern standards have shunted our definition of midlife to a much older age. I’m in my prime, I’ll have you know!)

Bishop Takes Cousin

A few days later, a local historic landmark put even Nina’s longevity into perspective: the consecration of Rachel Treweek as the first female Bishop of Gloucester. I caught an interview on BBC Woman’s Hour with her ecclesiastical garment designer, Polly Meynell, who observed that at her enthronement Bishop Rachel will become the first woman to wear the bishop’s cope (cloak), which has been worn exclusively by men for the last 1,000 years. I just hope she gets to launder it first.

Queen, Cousin, Bishop – there you have it. 

Cover of issue celebrating Queen's AwardIf you enjoyed this post, you might like to read my tribute to the Queens-Award-winning journal in which it appeared:

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Posted in Family, Personal life

2012 – That’s SO Last Year!

Mo Farah, Olympic gold medallist at London 2012
Mo Farah, 2012 icon (Photo: Wikipedia)

When I first started thinking about the imminent arrival of 2013, I didn’t want 2012 to end. For so long, 2012 had been a year to look forward to, full of promise, from that day back in 2007 when London, my home city, was awarded the 2012 Olympics. 

Then a couple of years later the build-up to the Royal Diamond Jubilee began.  Although I wouldn’t describe myself as a royalist, I was excited at the prospect of living through historic events that people would talk about for generations to come, like VE Day or Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.  (I’m now rooting for the Queen to outlive her famous ancestor and set a new record that will be, by association, ours.)

2012 did not disappoint

These events created some very special memories for me. As the commentators said of the now legendary “Super Saturday” for British athletes, I will be proud to look back and say “I was there”.

Grandpa on his 80th birthday with a "Keep Calm You're Only 80" balloonNot all my favourite memories of 2012  relate to national events, but my other personally and locally momentous occasions, like the national ones, were planned and expected well in advance:

  • meeting my Canadian cousin’s daughter for the first time (I hadn’t seen her father since he was a child, in the 1970s)
  • a visit from my American schoolfriend’s daughter in July (I’d last seen her mother in the 1980s)
  • my father’s 80th birthday in September
  • the publication of my first book in October

As yet, 2013 will be more of a mystery tour. It feels odd to be on the threshold of a year of uncertainty, after a year of such precise planning and predictability.

It doesn’t help that I always find odd years disconcerting. 2012 always sounded like it was going to be neat and pleasing; 2013 just sounded messy and vaguely threatening.

But as it turned out, on New Year’s Day 2013 we awoke to blue skies and sunshine for the first time in weeks. This promising omen was echoed by a surge of optimism from my friends and family, cascading down my Facebook timeline and Twitter feed. Everyone seemed on great form and ready for another year of triumph

And all of a sudden, instead of being filled with foreboding as I take down the 2012  wall calendar and flip open the 2013 one in its place, I’m feeling excited and optimistic. It doesn’t matter any more that our national annus mirabilis has drifted quietly downstream into the history books. Starting to fill in my 2013 diary, I’m already at ease with writing the new year’s date – something that usually takes me months to get used to.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to be thinking to myself: “2012? That’s SO last year!”

Happy New Year and may 2013 bring you your heart’s desire.

Photograph of blue sky
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)